Loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH) studies have implicated one or more chromosome 11 tumor-suppressor gene(s) in the development of cutaneous melanoma as well as a variety of other forms of human cancer. In the present study, we have identified multiple independent critical regions on this chromosome by use of homozygosity mapping of deletions (HOMOD) analysis. This method of analysis involved the use of highly polymorphic microsatellite markers and statistics to identify regions of hemizygous deletion in unmatched melanoma cell line DNAs. Regions of loss were defined by the presence of an extended region of homozygosity (ERH) at > or =5 adjacent markers and having a statistical probability of < or =.001. Significant ERHs were similar in nature to deletions identified by LOH analyses performed on uncultured melanomas, although a higher frequency of loss (24 [60%] of 40 vs. 16 [34%] of 47) was observed in the cell lines. Overall, six small regions of overlapping deletions (SROs) were identified on chromosome 11 flanked by the markers D11S1338/D11S907 (11p13-15.5 [SRO1]), D11S1344/D11S11385 (11p11.2 [SRO2]), D11S917/D11S1886 (11q21-22.3 [SRO3]), D11S927/D11S4094 (11q23 [SRO4]), AFM210ve3/D11S990 (11q24 [SRO5]), and D11S1351/D11S4123 (11q24-25 [SRO6]). We propose that HOMOD analysis can be used as an adjunct to LOH analysis in the localization of tumor-suppressor genes.